Steve Jobs Tweaks California's Organ Donation Law

Did his experience with user-friendly interfaces help Steve Jobs double the number of organ transplants available in California?

This piece was originally published last October. See all coverage of Steve Jobs' life and death.

In 2008 and 2009 there was a lot of speculation about Steve Jobs' health. He was noticeably gaunt. But Apple PR wasn't clear about his condition, calling it a "cold" or a "hormone imbalance." It turns out he had a failing liver and was learning he needed a transplant.

As Business Insider tells it, Jobs then ran around the country, trying to get on as many liver waiting lists as possible. This is one (very expensive and time-consuming) way you can improve your chances of getting a donated organ if you have the resources. He ended up getting one, of course, but not everyone does.

The whole ordeal convinced him, apparently, that the process for getting organs was unfair, and the process of finding donors could be improved. As the story goes, he made a personal appeal to Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger to change the law.

And it worked.

Yesterday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that will make California the first state in the nation to create a live donor registry for kidney transplants.

The bill also requires California drivers to decide whether they want to be organ donors when they renew their drivers' licenses. According to one notable supporter, this second measure alone should double the number of organ transplants available in California.

It's a fascinating story, but here's the most fascinating detail: Apparently Jobs was pushing for that latter provision. He wanted to make sure that drivers didn't just have the option of electing to become donors, but actually were forced to declare whether they would or wouldn't be. I can't help thinking that's the contribution of someone who knows the power of nudges and default settings and is applying insights from user interfaces design to the DMV. And that makes me think that UI experts should be more involved in government, not just designing better tax forms but consulting on policy.

Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less